The evolution of e-mail.

It’s all about mobility now.

With the proliferation of mobile screens in both the business and personal environments, it was bound to have an impact on the way that people interact with e-communications.

And now we see the extent.  Recently-released stats from e-mail software and analytics company Litmus in its 2019 State of Email report reveal that ~43% of all e-mails are now being opened on mobile devices.

That compares to ~39% being opened in webmail and just ~18% in desktop applications.

How this is playing out is pretty clear.  People are riffling through e-mails on their mobile devices to determine what to keep and what to delete.  They might come back to the saved e-mails on a different (larger) device, but the first cut is most often via mobile.

This sort of “triage” behavior is happening in the workplace as much as in personal communications.  What it means is that the initial impression an e-mail leaves has to be super-effective like never before. The “from” line and the “subject” line have to work harder than ever to draw the attention of the viewer and avoid a quick consignment to the recycle bin.

Only slightly less important are the first one or two sentences of the e-mail content — particularly for those people who choose to have preview options activated.

It’s putting more emphasis than ever on “mere words” rather than photos, other images or eye-catching design. In an ironic twist, we’ve come full circle and are now back to where it all started with messages hundreds of years ago:  words, words and words.

Another interesting consequence is the second look that some marketers are giving to direct mail, which — although clearly more costly than e-communications – does provide far better way to draw attention of a target audience through design and imagery instead of the quick trip to the trash bin.

The Litmus 2019 State of Email report can be downloaded here.

Who Are the “Mobile Addicts” in This World?

phones on paradeMost of us know at least some people who seem to be on their mobile devices constantly. And now their total numbers have been quantified.

Bank of America has teamed up with Yahoo! research firm Flurry Analytics to publish a Consumer Mobility Report. The one published last month is the second such yearly report.

The BofA/Flurry analysis breaks down three categories of mobile device users: those who it characterizes as “regular users” … “super users” … and “mobile addicts.”

The classifications are defined as follows:

  • Regular Users: People who launch mobile applications 1 to 16 times per day
  • Super Users: Those who launch apps 16 to 60 times per day
  • Mobile Addicts: Those who launch apps more than 60 times per day

According to the study, using these criteria there are ~280 million people around the world who qualify as Mobile Addicts — and that figure is up sharply since 2014 (by nearly 60%).

By comparison, Super Users represent slightly under 600 million people, while Regular Users are still the lion’s share at ~985 million.

So, while a distinct minority, the number of Mobile Addicts is actually quite high — and it’s growing much faster than the other two segments.

It certainly helps us understand why we’re seeing mobile addiction-like behavior seemingly everywhere we look.

The BofA/Flurry study also delved into the major categories of apps that Mobile Addicts are using, and found that their usage levels are higher across all of these categories.

The five most popular categories for Mobile Addicts are topped by messaging and social platforms, which represent the biggest usage compared to other mobile phone consumers:

  • Messaging and social index: 556 (used 5.56 times more than the average mobile device consumer)
  • Utilities and productivity index: 427
  • Gaming index: 202
  • Finance index: 155
  • News and magazines index: 102

Study details are available here.

Do any of these statistics come as a particular surprise to you? Let other readers know your thoughts.

What’s happening with the Apple Watch these days?

Not all that much, it turns out.

Apple Watch LineWhen is the last time you heard about a product introduction where initial sales were off by 90% barely three months after coming on the market?

If you’re thinking the Blackberry 10 … you’re wrong.

It’s the Apple Watch. Its introduction in April was made with a big amount of fanfare, promoted before and after the launch by PR, TV and online advertising, and even outdoor billboards.

But the hard truth is that aside from the tech community, few people are buying the Apple Watch.

According to Slide Intelligence, weekly Apple Watch sales have plummeted from around 200,000 per day at launch to fewer than 20,000 per day now. Moreover, most sales have been of the least expensive Sport model ($349).

Even worse, of those who have purchased an Apple Watch, fewer than four in ten would recommend the device to others.

You know there’s a problem when a new product engenders ridicule such as this brief, highly dismissive video review.

It may be too soon to write off the Apple Watch introduction as an abject failure. But I know one thing: The market’s (lack of) receptivity so far can’t be what Apple execs were hoping for.

It must be quite a comedown for a company that experienced the dizzying popularity of the iPod, iPhone and iPad right out of the box — and where those product sales continued to climb at an increasing rate for months or years after their debut.

google-glass-fashionSome people are comparing the Apple Watch introduction to what happened to Google Glass – likewise the victim of tepid sales to the point where Google quietly removed the product from the market after making a go of it for about two years.

Actually, I’m not quite sure the comparison is completely apt.

For starters, Google Glass didn’t come on the market backed by a ginormous PR and advertising campaign. In fact, it wasn’t really presented as a full-blown product – but more like a project with a beta test component.

Also, it was never made available in wide release; some people I know who wanted to “kick the tires” with Google Glass had difficulty finding out how they could do so.

But besides the very different rollout strategies, another factor might explain a more fundamental difference – and which has hugely negative potential impact on the Apple Watch.

Whereas Google Glass offered its wearers some truly new functionality, what does the Apple Watch deliver besides being merely a miniature version of an iPhone?

When something is less user-friendly (too miniature for many) … doesn’t offer any new functionality over alternative products … and is pretty expensive to boot, is it any wonder that the Apple Watch’s debut has had all the pizzazz of a cold mashed potato sandwich?

Speaking personally, I don’t consider a multipurpose device about an inch square in size as a “must-have” gadget, and I’m pretty sure others would agree with me.

Technology writer and CRM specialist Gene Marks cautions that the Apple Watch’s future isn’t likely to be much brighter than its less-than-impressive performance to date because of this fundamental liability: “The Apple Watch is not making people or companies quicker, better or wiser,” he contends.

In the world of technology and gadgets, that’s not recipe for success. Just ask Blackberry.

Now … let’s hear from Apple Watch users.  What’s your take?

The “App Gap”: Mobile Apps Overtake All Others in Digital Media Consumption

Mobile apps overtaking other digital media consumptionIt was bound to happen.

The bulk of time Americans are spending on digital media … is now happening on mobile applications.

According to data released this past week by Internet and digital analytics firm comScore, the combined time that people expend using digital media breaks down as follows:

  • Mobile apps: ~52% of all time spent online
  • Mobile web surfing: ~8%
  • Desktop: ~40%

Apps are clearly in the driver’s seat – particularly in the mobile realm.  In fact, comScore estimates that apps account for 7 out of every 8 minutes spent on mobile devices.

On smartphones, the app usage is ~88% of all time spent, whereas on tablets, it’s ~82%.

This doesn’t mean that app usage is spread evenly throughout the population of people who are online.  Far from it.  Only about one-third of people download one app per month or more.  (The average smartphone user is downloading about three apps per month.)

The inevitable conclusion:  App usage is highly concentrated among a subset of the population.

Indeed, the 7% most active smartphone owners account for almost half of all the download activity during any given month.

But even if most users aren’t downloading all that many apps … they are certainly engaged with the ones they do have on their devices:  comScore reports that nearly 60% are using apps every day.

Here again, the data show that usage levels are much higher among smartphone users than they are with tablet users (where only about one quarter of the people use apps daily).

Where they’re spending their time is also interesting.  Well over 40% of all app time spent on smartphones is with a user’s single most used app.  (Facebook takes top honors — of course.)

And if you combine social networking, games and Internet radio, you’ve pretty much covered the waterfront when it comes to app usage.

When you think about it, none of this should come as much surprise.  We’re a mobile society – hourly, daily, monthly and yearly.  It only makes sense that most online time is going to be happening when people are away from their home or their desk, now that it’s so easy to be connected so easily from even the tiniest mobile devices.

And speaking of “easy” … is it really any wonder why people would flock to apps?  It’s less hassle to open up an app for news or information rather than searching individual sites via mobile.  People simply don’t have the patience for that anymore.

Tablet Computer Adoption: Fast and Furious

Tablets are growing faster than smartphone adoptionThe tablet computer hasn’t been around long at all.  But it’s making a huge splash in the digital arena … and giving not only laptops but also smartphones a run for their money in the bargain.

Consider these data points as reported on recently by Mark Donovan, a senior vice president at comScore, a leading Internet cyber-analytics firm:

  • Tablet adoption is happening significantly faster than what was experienced with smartphones.
  • The majority of iPad users don’t own an iPhone or some other type of smartphone.
  • Tablet “early adopters” are equally male and female – a departure from the norm which typically finds early adopters of new digital technology being primarily young men.
  • There is very high usage of tablets for shopping, watching video, and other media consumption. That’s also a departure from what was experienced with smartphones, where it took much longer for consumers to become comfortable shopping from their smartphone devices.
  • People use tablets and smartphones differently – and at different times. For example, smartphone usage peaks during the day whereas tablets are used more in the evening.

That tablets are making big gains on laptop computers is no surprise at all, considering their lighter weight, nearly effortless portability, brighter screens, and the ease of using them in environments not conducive to a keyboard-and-mouse (like in bed).

But of the trends noted above, I think the most intriguing one pertains to tablet computer usage versus smartphones – specifically, how tablets are becoming an alternative to smartphones rather than an adjunct.

Indeed, it seems as if some people aren’t making the transition from feature phones to smartphones that everyone expected; they’re opting for tablets instead. We may see the adoption rates for smartphonesbegin to flatten out as a result.

Indeed, Adobe Systems reported in May 2012 that tablet traffic is growing at a rate ten times faster than smartphone traffic.

But if you really think about it, maybe these latest developments aren’t so surprising: Many folks have long complained about the “miniaturization” of display screens that are a necessary evil of mobile phones. Now that the tablet has come along, there’s finally an effective solution to that dilemma – and the market has responded accordingly, blowing away even the most optimistic sales forecasts for tablets.